In a world rife with violence it is always good to hear those who vociferously denounce war. I am also against war, especially when it comes to Syria, and have been so for the past two years. But even as we helplessly watch Syria’s death toll rise to over 100,000, two million Syrian refugees flee to other countries and Bashar al-Assad gas over 1,400 innocent civilians, I cannot support any further inaction by my country. I reluctantly support a US military intervention in Syria.
In 2011, I learned of the Syrian boys who, inspired by the pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia, painted graffiti slogans calling for the people to topple the regime. Numerous youths, some of whom had nothing to do with the incident, were apprehended by security and tortured.
I later saw the disturbing video of 13 year-old Hamza’s castrated corpse covered with lacerations and electric shock burns. I watched aghast at bullet holes that pierced each side of his arms.
Hamza’s story immediately brought back memories of Emmett Till, the 14 year-old boy beaten and murdered in 1955 in Mississippi. Hamza’s parents defied orders and showed the world what the government did to their child. Emmett’s mother also showed the world how her son was brutally murdered. When I saw Syrians gather in the streets, galvanized by that horrendous video, I was reminded of the those who did the same here in the US to protest the brutality of discrimination.
For months Syrians pled for international help, which never came. Each new UN resolution on Syria, died at the hands of Russia’s and China’s vetoes. So I did what I could to raise awareness. I created a video to support peaceful Syrian protesters and I repeatedly demonstrated with Syrian Americans. The organizers handed me the microphone and asked me to speak with people passing by. I’m shy, but they insisted I spoke about the case as best I could. All I could say was that those who were not African American helped fight for my ancestors’ freedom so I must support others in the quest for their own. I argued that one needn’t be Syrian to recognize their fight for human rights. We should all demand the UN take action to stem the violence and protect innocent lives.
While Syrians vehemently denounced the regime, foreign fighters have been rushing in to take advantage of the conflict. I remember how sad it was to watch the country devolve into a civil war.
I wish I could forget the countless graphic videos uploaded to YouTube by ordinary citizens in a country where journalists are still banned. But these images haunt me despite the distance. As I sit comfortably in New York, I can only imagine how it feels to be a child in Syria right now, this very second. I worry that if we do not intervene, Bashar al-Assad will use chemical weapons again, killing even more innocent civilians. Bashar al-Assad will not stop unless someone intervenes. He has demonstrated his willingness to slaughter civilians without remorse. The US cannot continue to stand aside and watch another holocaust unfold before all of our eyes. Therefore, I reluctantly support US military intervention in Syria.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous digital media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future 2013 Assignments: Op-Eds.